Sunday, April 21, 2019

Lyrid Meteor Shower TONIGHT!

Tonight, is a good night to go outside to enjoy the annual Lyrid meteor shower! Though various sky-watching organizations have given different dates for the actual peak, if you go out and look up between tonight and April 23rd, you’re in for a treat.

The Lyrids are an annual meteor shower that happens every April as the Earth passes through the dusty trail left behind by comet Thatcher. This comet orbits the Sun about every 415 years and visited our cosmic neighborhood most recently in 1861. This particular meteor shower has been reported to have been observed as far back as 687 B.C.

Sky-watchers can expect to see roughly 18 meteors per hour. However, on occasion, the Lyrids have been known to produce outbursts of up to 100 meteors per hour, though the bright moon might make some of these difficult to see.

While you can see meteors no matter where in the sky you look, the radiant (seeming point of meteor origin) is just northeast of the bright star, Vega. And while you can see some meteors from the Southern Hemisphere, the Norther Hemisphere will have the best views since the radiant is still above the horizon before dawn in that half of the world.

Head outside and look east around 9pm-10pm local time, because that’s when the radiant will be above the horizon. Of course, the origin point will continue to climb in the sky throughout the night, so set up your lawn chairs for optimum comfort. If possible, try to find a nice dark area to observe from. While it is possible to use a nice set of binoculars, a telescope is not recommended. In fact, the best viewing comes from your own naked eye.

Want to see meteors with long, striking tails? Don’t focus all your viewing solely on the radiant. Look all over the sky! The meteors will be traveling as fast as 49km (30mi) per second and will shine about as bright as the stars in the Big Dipper.

So, dress appropriately for your area and go outside for the next few nights! Remember, you never know what you’ll see if you just keep your eyes to the skies!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Planetary Effort to Photograph a Black Hole

Scientists around the world have been abuzz lately about a BIG announcement that’s due to be made live, early tomorrow morning. This announcement concerns the ever elusive, and as-of-yet, unseen, black hole.

In anticipation of what we all hope will be the first ever visual unveiling of that which cannot be seen, El Paso Herald-Post’s own Steven Zimmerman asks, “Why haven’t we seen a black hole before? And, what is a black hole?”

If you'd like to know more, check out my latest article here.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

2019 Astronaut Hall of Fame Inductees

Former NASA astronauts Jim Buchli and Janet Kavandi are inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Class of 2019 during a ceremony on April 6, 2019, inside the Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. They unveiled their plaques, which will be placed in the Hall of Fame at the visitor complex.

Credits: NASA/Cory Huston

Veteran NASA Astronauts Inducted into US Astronaut Hall of Fame

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, founded over 30 years ago  by the six surviving Mercury 7 astronauts, selects the veteran astronauts for induction into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame serves as a venue where space travelers can be remembered and honored.

James Buchli and Janet Kavandi are the most recent veteran NASA astronauts to join the ranks of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Buchli was selected from NASA's 1978 astronaut candidate class and was a member of the space shuttle support crew for STS-1 and STS-2 in 1981. He served as on-orbit capsule communicator for STS-2. From there, he went on to become a veteran of four space flights, logging more than 20 days in space. He accomplished this by traveling 7.74 million in 319 Earth orbits.

While serving as mission specialist of those four space flights between 1985-1992, he also served as deputy chief of the Astronaut Office.

Kavandi, director of NASA's Glenn Research Center, was a member of NASA's 15th class of astronaut candidates, selected in 1994. She is a veteran of three space shuttle missions and has logged more than 33 days in space, traveling more than 13.1 million miles in 535 Earth orbits.

Kavandi supported ISS payload integration, capsule communications and robotics, and served as deputy chief of the Astronaut Office. In 2016, she became the director of Glenn.

"The pioneering spirit we see in every astronaut is truly exemplified by this year's inductees," said Jim Bridenstine, NASA Administrator. "Janet Kavandi and James Buchli represent the best of America's astronauts, and I congratulate them for achieving this prestigious honor. Each has contributed greatly to the NASA mission, and their efforts have helped lay the groundwork for where we are today--including Janet's leadership directing Glenn's Moon to Mars work--as we chart a course for a return of American astronauts to the lunar surface in five years, and eventually on to Mars."

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Have you ever seen a solar eclipse?

Over our lifetime, we might be lucky enough to see three or four solar eclipses. Unless, that is, you are an eclipse chaser. 

But if you are a rover on Mars, and you are equipped with special lenses for your "eyes" you will get the chance to see TWO eclipses within days of each other. 

This is because the planet Mars has two moons: Phobos and Deimos
On March 17th, Deimos was captured crossing the face of the Sun. And on March 26th, Phobos followed suit. 

But don't take my word for it. Check out the NASA video to see it for yourself!

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Here you will find amazing stories, interesting facts, pictures, and information all about the cosmos. So, come back often to learn something new! In the meantime, feel free to read my latest article.